Bone Health

Maintaining Strong Bone Health at Hoag

Bone is living tissue that constantly rebuilds itself after breaking down. Over time, however, the creation of new bone tissue can’t keep up with the pace of bone loss. When that happens, you may become more prone to bone fractures. Hoag can help you to prevent bone loss, speed up the production of new bone tissue and expertly repair fractures when they do occur.

Osteopenia is a loss of bone mineral density (BMD). Lower BMD indicates you have fewer minerals in your bones than you should, which makes bones weaker. It usually does not cause symptoms and is most commonly detected during a bone density screening.

If left untreated, osteopenia can develop into osteoporosis, a progressive disease that weakens the bones and puts people at a much higher risk for unexpected fractures. Over time, osteoporosis causes loss of bone mass and strength, leading to painful fractures of the hips, wrists or spine.

People with osteoporosis have an increased vulnerability to fractures and often diminished mobility and independence.

Risk factors include:

  • Older age
  • Lack of physical activity
  • Malnutrition
  • Gender (it’s more common in women)
  • Family history
  • Anorexia nervosa
  • Smoking cigarettes
  • Drinking alcohol
  • Hormone levels
  • Certain medical conditions, including cancer and rheumatoid arthritis

If you are older than 40, have had a broken bone or have had other illness that puts your bone health at risk, your doctor may use a dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DEXA) scan to see if you have signs of bone density loss.

Hoag’s DEXA scan uses a very low amount of X-ray energy to measure bone health and identify low bone density in patients at an early stage, enabling doctors to prescribe appropriate treatment before the condition worsens. Images of the lower spine and hips are most often used in checking for osteoporosis.

These scans can be performed once every two years or more often, if recommended by your doctor. Speak with your primary care physician, gynecologist or OB/GYN to determine if you may benefit from a DEXA scan.

You will be asked to lie on your back on a padded table while a movable arm passes over your body. A technician will remain with you, and you will feel no sensations from the exam, which typically takes 15 to 30 minutes.

For osteopenia, treatment will likely focus on vitamins, such as calcium and vitamin D, as well as diet and exercise.

Treatment recommendations for osteoporosis are based on your risk of breaking a bone in the next 10 years. If your risk is high, your doctor may prescribe a bone-building medication, an antiresorptive medication to slow bone loss, or hormone-related therapy.

For people with low risk of breaks, treatment might focus instead on modifying risk factors for bone loss and falls.